Wednesday, 28 December 2011

REVIEW:- Gina OCHSNER - “The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight”

Year Published: - 2009
Where the book was from:- My own copy – ex-library
ISBN: - 978 1 84627 007 9
Pages: - 370pp
Genre: - General fiction
Location:- Russia
How I came across it: - Serendipity
Rating: - *****

One sentence summary:- A strange and disturbing account of some of the problems of poverty, war and the unreal approach to life in post Soviet Russia.

Describe the plot without giving anything away:- In the yard of a crumbling apartment building in post-Soviet Russia, there’s a corpse who won’t keep quiet. Mircha fell from the roof and was never properly buried, so he sticks around to cause hassle to the living including Azade, keeper of the Little Necessary; Olga, a disillusioned translator/censor for a military newspaper; Yuri, a young army veteran who always wears an aviator’s helmet and thinks he’s a fish; and Tanya, a student of hope, words, and colour.

Tanya carries a notebook everywhere, recording her dreams of finding love and escaping her job at the All-Russia All-Cosmopolitan Museum, a place that holds a weird and wonderful collection of rubbishy art replicas created with the materials at hand, from foam and chewing gum to lollipop sticks and tomato juice. When the museum’s director hears of the visit of an American group seeking to fund art in Russia, it looks as if Tanya might get her chance at a better life, if she can only convince them of the collection’s worth. Enlisting the help of her strange assortment of neighbours with their different backgrounds and cultures, Tanya scrambles to save her dreams.

General comments:- A nominee for the Orange Prize for Fiction


When a man loses his dream, he ceases to be a man, he ceases to be alive.

He was a good man in a tangential way. You could feel that behind the vitriol, the bile, and rage, really he meant well.

Outside, darkness settled on rooftops, gathered in corners.

Patience is what you get when you divide the number of days you’ve gone without eating by the temperature outdoors.

Faith was not about knowing where the path led, but believing the path led somewhere.

AUTHOR Notes:- Gina Ochsner’s stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Non-required Reading, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, and many other magazines, and have received awards such as the Raymond Carver Prize and the Chelsea Award for Short Fiction. Her first collection of short stories, The Necessary Grace to Fall, won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. It also won the Oregon Book Award for Short Fiction and the PNBA Book Award for short stories and was an Austin Chronicle Top Ten Pick.

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